Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Aaron Salzburg - July 24, 1984

Outbreak of Typhus

I can also remember a fact uh, something which you won't tell about it--talk about it--one brave Jewish fellow jumped on the SS man and he got out--almost got his gun out of the hand of the SS, of the SS man, but the Jewish police, or the guards went to help this uh, German SS man and uh, the Jewish fellow was killed on the spot. The same German told us at that time that, "You people are dreaming that you're gonna survive that war." The very, very same German, which was saved by our people. The reason for that is, of course, they were probably were afraid of what the consequences might be thereafter. After coming back from that uh, burial I felt kind of sick. I really didn't know what it was, but I feel down--not enough strength. And uh, before, before I knew, five people of us got sick. Five of ten got affected. We felt very sick. We called the doctor--I don't remember the name of the doctor. He was from a small city called Klimontów. Another person in his fifties. A very fine gentleman. We called him up, we were all laying in the beds, and when he came and uh, looked at us uh, the first thing he said, "You people are all sick with t...typhus. And the best place for you people would be if you go voluntarily. We have a makeshift or whatever it's called--a hospital in the city. There are about sixty or seventy sick people there. If you go there you will have the best care in that hospital." We were always peculiar through all these years being with the Germans. We had a bad feeling with being sick and being in their hands. We tried talk out the, the, the doctor from that idea. We wanted badly to stay in the house and get recovered one way or the other. As we had that conversation the doctor was called down by some Jewish guard and told the doctor that ???, that surgeon ???, is down there, he's waiting for you, he wants to talk to the doctor. The doctor left his coat. He went down to, to that German, to have a talk with him. The German told him, "From now on if anyone find a sick person in this ghetto you got to report them to us--to the SS--and they got to be shot at the spot. We can't afford to have sick people--especially typhus. The people in that, in your hospital had been shot, an hour ago and were already on, on the cemetery--buried. Everyone one of you, the cemetery commissioner, the cemetery unit, is responsible, and the neighbors are responsible--not only the sick people be killed, but you, the doctor and all the cemetery people are responsible for not uh, reporting the sick person." He came up and he said, "I'm sorry, I can't help you. You got to help yourselves. This is the news what I just heard from the Germans and good-bye," and he walked away. Of course he did not report--he had a Jewish heart. Uh, we had two people helping us, it was one young lady--I don't know if she is still alive. Her husband was in Russia. She was married before the war or during the war. She must have been not more than 21. Very young, beautiful, young Jewish girl. For some reason she volunteered to help us. I can't figure out why she did that. We had also a fella in his late twenties. He volunteered to help us. As a matter of fact, all of us got well, and nobody died. We were uh, we survived that sickness. The only thing I remember--I had uh, a friend by the name, ???, she was a bacteriologist--a good friend of mine, she was in the city. She was from the city either of Łódź or Alexandrow--somewhere in that area. She was a refugee in our city, she was expelled by the Germans in our city, and she was very active with the cem--cemetery uh, group of people. She helped a lot of sick people. She was a good friend of mine. She used to come up at night and give me some pills. I don't know to this day what the pills were, but she tried to help. She risked her life. The last night when she came up, she gave me some kind of a pill to calm me down or to be able to sleep--I couldn't sleep. I don't know what, what the direction was--what it was from the pill or something else. I remember one thing, I got out of the bed I wanted to jump the window, and thanks for these two people--the healthy people, which they watched over us, and he hold me back. I remember every conversation I had with my brother in the dream--I lost my mind at the time, but funny, funny enough I can't explain this, only a doctor would know. The following day I remembered every word what I, what I did to my brother--what the conversation was about. I remember telling him how stupid we were. How easy it was for the Germans to gas all these Jews, not knowing where we were going, without a fight. I also remember, which whether it's true or not, I had seen a distance flame, which later I learned in this country, that those are some symptoms where a man is or a person is on their way, either way to die or survive a distant flame like a tunnel way back like flame.

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